Happy 2023! It has been a few weeks since my last update, and in that time, I hope you all have had an opportunity to rest and rejuvenate with family over the holiday season.
As our work at NAU ramps up for what will surely be a memorable 2023, here is a summary of my activities since late December.
- To close out the semester, I joined thousands of Lumberjacks and their families and friends in the Skydome to celebrate December commencement. The ceremonies were vibrant, and I am so thankful for the staff and volunteers who led this important university event and the faculty and staff who helped guide our students to this culminating moment of celebration. More than anything, I am optimistic about the future with the talented, hardworking and compassionate students who have graduated and begun the next chapter in their lives.
- During the week of Dec. 19, in preparation for the holiday break I had a lighter calendar, catching up with calls to key partners and outreach to colleagues who helped contribute to a successful 2022.
- As our winter break got underway, family members from Puerto Rico came to visit in Flagstaff, which was highlighted by beautiful snowy peaks, good food and company and lots of relaxation.
- Rima and I rang in the New Year visiting downtown Flagstaff for our first Pinecone drop, and since then I have spent much of the last two weeks in Phoenix, as with the new year comes a new legislative session and the opportunity to elevate and advocate for our crucial work in higher education before our state government.
- These visits included attending Katie Hobbs’s inauguration at the Capitol, meeting with Rep. Aguilar, joining the governor’s inaugural celebration, attending the opening of the legislature and many productive visits with representatives, policymakers and education and business partners. In the weeks ahead, I will continue to split my time between Flagstaff and Phoenix to attend to the important work of telling NAU’s story and encouraging continued public support that will enable us to fully carry out our mission in the service of the people and communities of the state.
- Tuesday, I was back in Flagstaff and met with the President’s Cabinet to set the tone for the year ahead and sharpen our focus on strategic goals that will elevate our mission. Our leadership team is energized and prepared for the hard and important work ahead.
- Yesterday, I visited with the dedicated teams who keep our university running in the heating and cooling plants. They have worked long hours in all conditions to ensure our facilities are ready to provide the enriching living and learning environment necessary for our students, faculty, and staff. Thanks to the team for all they do!
- I also spoke with the president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) on how we can best partner and share knowledge and resources in the advancement of our educational mission.
- Today brings a signature event and important topic as we prepare to kick off the spring semester: NAU Teaching Day. I’m delighted to join this annual tradition that recognizes the importance of our exceptional teacher-scholars in the tremendous role they play in our goals of student learning and success. Today, we welcome Gina Ann García, a leading scholar on Hispanic-Serving Institutions, to give the keynote on a topic of great interest to us at NAU.
With a strong foundation in place, I look forward to a truly bold and boundless 2023. This will surely be another banner year for NAU as we take Arizona’s attainment imperative head on and redouble our efforts as a leading engine of opportunity for the people and communities of Arizona and beyond.